haibun: A Year in the Life of a Tree

This is for Wordy Thursday over at Real Toads.  We are to write positively about trees, the Wild Woman movement, climate change, etc.  there is a movement afoot called “Tree Sisters: Seeding for Change, aim to plant a billion trees world-wide this year, and they are well on their way.”  I love trees.  This is about my best friend among the trees. I broke tradition and did not write a haiku but instead, a mini poem, not a tanka.

 

A year in the Life of a Tree

We moved into this house 20 years ago. My husband had had his eye on this house for sometime so when it became available, we snapped it up. The day after we moved in, I went on a walk through the woods that are on and adjoin our property. I grew up around trees – ancient oaks, dancing pines, lacy cherry trees, flaming maples, whispering willows. I fell in love with them all. Being a true believer in *Shinrin-yoku, I fell in love with trees all over again. The fact that these were our trees made the love sweeter, more delicious, deeper. I walked among the trees that day, touching each one of them, looking up into their leaved canopy, feeling their roots spreading beneath me. I felt the love welcoming me. Everyday I walk among them. All sadness, stress, anger – everything disappears when I walk among my friends.

My best friend in particular is one huge, ancient oak. Many times I have climbed up among its branches sitting cradled in them, my back against its bark. I have watched the woodland creatures on their daily errands, seen birds flying and nesting, watched a snake or a lizard stretching around their trunks. But this one, this particular one…he has made me most welcome. I will often climb up with a book and a bottle of water in a small pack on my back. Often, I have my violin hung on my back. I sit and play for the trees, for myself. Sometimes the songs are sad, often they lilt and dance. I have watched my life passing by in their leaves – from tender spring green to fading autumn colors. My best friend is always there – in rain, snow, winter, summer…the song I most often play for my friend is La Musica Notturna Delle Estrade di Madrid form No. 6, Opus 30 bu Boccherini. I fell in love with the song after watching the movie Master and Commander. It seemed the perfect song for my tree. The leaves all dance and the birds settle down and listen. It took me almost a year to learn the song.

a year in the life
of a tree goes by slowly –
the violin sings –
I play and the leaves dance
my friend smiles as do I

*shinrin-yoku – Japanese for forest bathing

La musica nottuna dell estrade di madrid no.6 op.30

MTB: Make Music of Those Words

It’s Thursday at the dVerse Poets Pub and this Thurday, it is Meeting the Bar, which means we all write to a specific word, theme, form – given out by the dVerse Prompter. Today it is Victoria; a true lady, amazing poet, lover of her husband and their dogs, good friend, and most excellent prompter of forms or themese. Today she is asking us to write musically – to use musical terms, or a theme, or a concept – to turn our poetry, lives, experiences into music. Come join us!

New Music
today starts with the music of a
low tuned cello – slow, hesitant, dolorous.
No more lively forays into the forest
to play my violin,
to let my music dance through the trees
giving the birds something different to
listen to or sing along to –
now my days are filled with lonely hours.
No one calls,
no one visits,
no one emails.
My husband is at work.
I bake cinnamon rolls.
Now it is only my mother and myself
going through the same routine.
Routine is good for her and
doesn’t disrupt her memories.
Every day is a slow waltz –
it does get lonely.
but there is sweetness in the days as well.
a swirl of dolce de leche
in the bitter coffee of the day.
I watch my mother – calando.
The sun fades.

Sumire – 澄玲 Voice of Jewels – tanka

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Today, Mary gives us the prompt of real beauty, savor it and share it. Click the link to learn more, and enjoy: http://dversepoets.com/2015/03/24/poetics-savor-the-beauty-and-share-it   Many times, we tend to look at the large picture of beauty: sunrise, sunset, the ocean, a forest, Mt. Fuji. As I am only 4’10” and close to the ground I have a different perspective. These small flowers speak to me in sumire 澄玲 – sound of jewels.

澄玲 =Sound of Jewels
The small shining things
of spring sing with the voices
of jewels hidden
in the jewel box of new
grass and faded autumn leaves

Gallery

Monday Schmonday

Yeah…Monday Schmonday….. I crank this up on the way to work on Mondays……sometimes, Tuesday. This starts Monday, Born to Run ends Friday…..

The Pianist – 雅

 

The music is soft
And drips from him like gentle
Rain. The notes quietly

Patter like drops on
Leaves, lulling, luring me
To wander the path.

Beguiled, I follow
Him to a place of quiet.
Tenderly he leads.

A storm explodes and
His hands move with swiftness and
Intense passion. The

Rain is a tempest,
A frenzy of wind, seething
And ripping the leaves.

And then….silence. The
Storm is over.The pianist
Sits, drained, emptied.

He stands and leaves the
Room. I go to touch the keys,
And find them still warm

From his passionate
Touch. On the keys are drops of
Blood, wrenched from his soul.

Love, Life, Death, Coincidence: The 11/16 Society

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was told by a wizard from another dimension, “There are no coincidences.”   A few months later he asked me, “And you still believe in coincidence?”

Yesterday was one of those gloomy, misty days that grow colder as the day progresses.  By the time I had left work and was headed for home, it was raining in fitful spurts.  I reached into the console and blindly pulled out a CD to play.  A few seconds of silence and then began “Seven Bridges Road.***”  At that point, I had to pull over to the shoulder.  It is one of those CDs I avoid but there it was.  As the rain spattered on my windshield and cars hissed by….Seven Bridges Road  – a time machine of a song.  I looked past the dull brown skeletons of trees to the equally dull sheet of river beyond and gave myself to memories.

Last night, whether it was because of the song or….whatever, I dreamed of when I saw JT in London, 1988, as he was going into a men’s clothier on Jermyn Street (“and you still believe in coincidence?”).   He was as shocked as I and then he grinned that glorious grin of his and said, “Well, as I live and breathe, if it isn’t the Carolina Cherry Blossom.  Come in with me and help me buy some shirts.”  As the doorman held the door for us, JT looked down and said, “I was sorry to hear Kenata-san went back to Japan.”  I sighed and said “I was sorry to hear Laura went back to California.”   We both shook our heads and a bit later, as we were mutually caressing the material for a shirt, he said, “Come back and spend the rest of your stay with me at my hotel. The tub is big enough for two.  And I have a friend nearby I can talk into letting you make us fried chicken and biscuits in his kitchen.”  At that point, the dream changed from memory into dream and in the dream, instead of him seeing me off at Heathrow, I was seeing him off.  And then the alarm woke me.

The dream hung around me all day today, persistent and grey as the rain.  When I arrived home, my mother gave me a look and said, “there is a message for you on the phone”…and she paused.  “JT  died last night in Duke Medical Center.”  I..we…or rather, members of 11/16 Society had been expecting this. (And you still believe in coincidence?”).  I sat for a few minutes while my husband looked at me strangely.  Mama explained that JT is, or rather was, a childhood friend.   My husband nodded and understood.  Many things though, he can’t understand.

JT  and I had both been born on 11/16 the same year and grew up within a block of each other.  When children and together, we had often been mistaken as twins, or brother and sister – dark brown curls, sharp brown eyes behind thick glasses, observing of our surroundings, reading the same books, playing the same games.  He, myself, my cousin Billy and Billy’s father were the original four members of the 11/16 Society.  Other members were added in later years.  Some of you are familiar with the 11/16 Society through previous posts.

When we were six and playing “doctor”, JT said to me, I’m going to be a doctor when I grow up.  For sheer perversity I said, no, you are not.  When we were 13, he was practicing his piano lessons and I was waiting for him.  He turned around and said, with a growl and a bang on the keyboard, “I shouldn’t have to do this, I’m going to be a doctor.”  I sighed patiently and explained to him….Again. You are not going to be a doctor.   When he was in pre-med and playing piano at bars around town for extra money, sometimes we’d meet and he would say, I’ll be glad when I’m a doctor!  I persisted, No you won’t.  You love the piano too much.  This argument persisted through the years until he graduated from medical school at Duke, went through the steps and became….a doctor.    Some years later, when I was living in Philadelphia, I returned home from a free lance photography job and found him folded up and asleep by my apartment door.  I nudged him awake with my foot.  He awoke and looked up at me, “I hate being a doctor.”   “Yeah, yeah.  Come on in.”  He unfolded his lanky six foot frame and followed me inside.  After a bath and with JT dressed my too short robe, we drank coffee and  talked.  I took him to work with me that night and afterwards to a local watering hole where he played the piano for tips and charmed the house.

 JT left medicine behind and threw himself into music.  Women came and went – for awhile,  I was one of them – the music always stayed.  He began making good money and was often requested to play accompaniment for recording sessions.  He traveled the globe and became a well-heeled musician.  When I saw him in London, we were both of us still grieving painful breakups.  As we sat in that huge tub in his London suite, pushing a toy boat back and forth to each other, he said, “It’s a pity about us. We always fell in love with someone or something else.”  I had to think about that.  I mean, I had taken baths with him before since we were three.  He and I had played Doctor, choo-choo, got into a fight over a paper route,stolen kisses on the front porch during hot summer when we were teens.  We had had an affair.  And here we were for a brief sojourn in London.  “No. We are as we should be. We’d have killed each other.”  He piddled with the toy boat for a moment….”but Kenata-san has the same birthday and is a doctor and you and he were magic.”  “And Laura has the same birthday and is a photographer and dumped you.   JT, you and I are friends – first, last, and always.  We have always been there, with and for each other.  We don’t need magic.”   He batted his eyes with those impossible lashes at me and then reached over the edge of the tub to refill our wine glasses.  “Yeah……but…..” and he left it hanging.

A few days later at Heathrow, JT asked if I remembered that night we and some other members of the  now 11/16 Society had been together at Kenata’s and my house, and had played “Seven Bridges Road”,  improvising for at least an hour.  Kenata had taken the piano over from JT because he wanted to learn the song.  I remembered looking at two of them,  there together, in the same room.  Men I loved as expressed in the song – same, yet very different.

Now I have loved you like a baby…

Like some lonesome child,

And I have loved you in a tame way,

And I have loved you wild.” 

Now in 2013, I sat on the side of the road with rain drumming on the roof of my car and listened to that song and remembered.  Less than I hour later, I learned one of those two men had died.  (“Do you still believe in coincidence?”).   I visited with JT last fall.  Thin and frail, I held him close to me.  I tried willing my strength into him.  “Not to worry love.  I am fine.“   Members of the 11/16 Society that are in the States and who knew JT. visited.  We all expected it.

JT died last night.  “Now cracks a noble heart.  Goodnight sweet prince…”

“There are stars in the southern sky.

And if ever you decide you should go,

There is a taste of time sweet and honey

Down the Seven Bridges Road.” 

 

***Seven Bridges Road by Steve Young recorded for his album in 1969, Rock Salt and Nails and also performed by the Eagles and various artists.

 

 

11/16 Society: Happy Birthday!

By the time we got home from Woodstock……Thank you all for showing up for the 11/16 Birthday party. Please don’t swim in the nishikigoi pond. Thank you. and still watch out for the brown acid.

Happy birthday to my dear ones:  to you who have gone one ahead, to those in Virginia, Durham, Hakone, Israel, Knightsbridge,  Noo Yawk City, and N’awlins.  May the year ahead be good to you:  “we few, we happy few”.  I raise my can of Coke to you in salute and wish I could give you all a big birthday hug and kiss. 

Songs today reminding me of you and the years  keep weaving through my head and heart:  a tapestry of light, shadows, tears, laughter, faith, redemption, wildness and peace, but especially of love.  I hear “Seven Bridges Road”, “Born to Run”, “Disco Inferno”, “Also Sprach Zarathustra” Handel’s Water Music, “Jolie Blonde”, …but especially I hear Seven Bridges Road.  

I remember the night we introduced that song to Masashi and how it captured him.  He sat at the piano and the five of us present wove that song for it seems like forever:  alto recorder, violin, guitar, tenor sax, voices.  We wove it until the stars went to sleep and the last note quivered in dying silver. 

 

 

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